Turner gets 20 years in jail

Published 7:33 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

The Andalusia man convicted in May of manslaughter in the vehicular homicide death of a Lurleen B. Wallace Community College staff member in 2006, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his “reckless decisions.”

Raymond Turner, 60, was driving a 1991 freight truck that collided head on with a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan driven by Polly Ann Patterson, LBWCC’s director of student support services, on March 17, 2006, on U.S. Hwy. 84 near Sitel.

Before the accident occurred, reports indicate Turner was pulled over by an Andalusia Police office who noticed Turner was having problems with the truck’s braking system. Turner was ordered to park the truck but disregarded the officer’s instructions. Moments later, the accident occurred that claimed Patterson’s life.

He was originally indicted on a murder charge; however, jurors convicted him on the lesser offense of manslaughter.

Covington County District Attorney Greg Gambril said the 20-year sentence was the maximum given under Alabama law for the charge of manslaughter.

“This is one of those situations where the defendant was responsible for an 18-wheeler and knew that the brakes were not working,” Gambril said. “And despite the great risk to the public at large he proceeded to drive the vehicle — even neglecting a police officer’s direction at one point to park the rig on the side of the road.

“And because of his reckless decisions, he ended up taking someone’s life,” Gambril said.

He said his heart goes out to the victim’s family, and in this case, to the defendant’s family and friends.

“By all accounts this was not a violent man, but an unfortunately, he had a history of making poor decisions regarding the operation of motor vehicles,” he said.

Gambril said Turner has been taken to Kilby Correctional Facility for classification and it will be up to the state Department of Corrections to determine where to incarcerate him.